I was recently interviewed (very briefly) by KGW News regarding cold weather training. Here are some of the expanded ideas I shared but were not shown in the interview.
The main question asked: “Is cold weather training dangerous?”
No. The common misconception is that your muscles and connective tissues will be cold and less pliable therefore, you might “snap”. The reality is that your body maintains a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees. Training in cold weather will not cause your internal temperature to drop. Your body will simply burn more energy to maintain your core temperature.
Therefore, because your body consumes more energy, you need to adjust your eating (fuel intake) according to the type and duration of your outdoor activity. If you are going out for a daily jog, eat foods that metabolize quickly and effectively. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables. However, if you are going to be outside for an extended period of time (skiing), consume foods that breakdown slowly and have a slightly higher fat content. This includes peanut butter and various nuts.
Another factor to consider for outdoor training is air intake. If the outside air temperature is cold, your body must use extra energy to warm the outside air up to your body’s temperature. (For example: Outside temperature = 38 degrees. Body has to raise air temperature by 60.6 degrees.) You can start elevating the outside air temperature through sinus breathing. By drawing air in through your nose, the air will be briefly warmed in your sinus chamber before it gets drawn into the lungs. This is also an essential way to filter outside air.
One last factor to consider is dehydration. We often don’t consider the possibility of dehydration during cold weather training because after all, it’s not hot out and the sun isn’t shining. The reality is that dehydration has an equal or greater possibility in cold-weather conditioning because your body is burning more fuel and metabolizing more water to keep your core temperature stable. Therefore, it is just as important to stay hydrated during cold weather conditioning. Ideally, drink water at room temperature. Just like breathing cold air, your body needs to elevate your drinking water’s temperature to 98.6 degrees. Warmer water provides a smaller temperature variance, demanding less heat from your core temperature.
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